Wilkinson Sword

Where’s The Cue Ball Going?

Whilst at my first Gasp lunch, Giles (Creative Director), George (Designer) and I got talking about pool, and lamented how there are fewer and fewer decent pubs to play in. I think this is a huge social issue and if we don’t act now we will never be able to reverse the process, but it seems that the gorgeous couple in the latest Wilkinson Sword advert have found somewhere to play.

This advert nearly just passed me by without comment, as I watched half-awake on a Sunday morning. On initial viewing, it appears right and of its type, and thus uninteresting. It has the typical over-blown spec and tech spiel that likens a piece of plastic that houses a blade to a Formula 1 car or similar, and a man with a countenance saturated in vanity and foam.

But when I saw the advert again in the next ad break, one part struck me as quite ridiculous. The advert actually starts well; the man wisely reaches for some chalk, so as to ensure he will get a clean contact with the object ball. But then it all starts to unravel. His girlfriend, clearly cueing down too much on the cue ball, imparts unwanted side on said sphere, sending it careening into the pack and firing a ball full pelt off the table into her beau’s mug.

Now, I like to think I have an open mind. Open to a diverse array of images, creative possibilities and unusual analogies and metaphors. In a world where Hull City’s manager Steve Bruce can write and publish a thriller novel I believe that anything is possible.

But for Wilkinson Sword to associate the fresh, invigorating experience of a rehydrating shave with being hit full in the face with a snooker ball, for me, just doesn’t work as a piece of imagery. At all. I mean, that must really hurt right? A voiceover flimsily justifies the analogy with, “rehydration when you least expect it.” Well, I wasn’t really expecting to be hit in the face with a snooker ball firstly, let alone for that ball to then transmorph into a volley of water! I am wet, confused and exasperated. I don’t really know what you mean Wilkinson! You craaaazzzy.

I have attempted to reverse engineer the creative production process, and have been left with this hypothetical transcript from an initial concept meeting:

11:37:17 AM – Meeting Starts


- OK, so the new Wilkinson Sword Hydro 5 Groomer campaign that we have somehow secured. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve always likened a fresh, cool shave with being hit full in the face with a snooker ball. Just putting that out there.

- OK…..

- Say what?

- Yes! For sure, lets do it! (sycophant)

- Excellent, that’s agreed. And I know a hot model that can play snooker trick shots, so we can capture it in a couple of takes. I’ll give her a bell. Bosh. Done. Right, anyone fancy a pint and a rack of pool, as I am really not that busy? Not sure where to go to play though….

11:37:55 AM – Meeting Ends.

Quite simply, this is an ill-conceived advert idea. I assume very little time went into its conception. Crazy morphing of objects can work really well, like the Skittles advert where everything the guy touches turns to Skittles. It echoes the Midas story everyone is familiar with and you even sympathise a bit with the guy’s curse, whilst the visual trick of the objects changing to Skittles is perfectly executed.

I feel I really should mention, for the sake of fairness, that I fear I may be biased, due to some mental scarring that surely must skewer my stance. I once took an ex girlfriend to the New Forest for a romantic break. No need to go into details, but the whole sorry weekend descended into farce and controversy, climaxing with my erstwhile squeeze swinging for me with a snooker ball in a long hiking sock. The vision of a crazed Native Briton warrior goddess, wielding a pink, woollen slingshot (that caught me a glancing blow on the cheek) did not feel particularly invigorating.

But anyway, I have to go, as George and I are going to the Red Lion to recreate this awesome scene from the Colour Of Money

I am sure the locals of Wokingham will receive our ironic arrogant posturing well, and we will not come back with a cue ball embedded in our boat races.

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